*Note: Whilst this post is sponsored by Thryve Inside, all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
An Introduction to Gut Health and Probiotics
Did you know that your bowels host not just millions, but trillions of microorganisms? From the Healthline website:
“Your bowels host an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms from more than 500 different species, according to Harvard Medical School. Your mix of bacteria is unique, like your fingerprint.”
These microorganisms are part of our body’s complex ecosystem, and affect many conditions, from autoimmunity to mental health. In fact, our guts are known as our second brain, and up to 70% of our immune cells live there. Thus it is vital that we take good care of our gut health, in order to maximise our wellbeing.
Probiotics are good bacteria that can be found in abundance in fermented foods such as yoghurt, cheese, kimchi and sauerkraut. There are many different strains that interact with our body in a myriad of ways. You can also purchase encapsulated probiotics, and Thryve even customises them for you to an extent.
What Can I Discover About My Gut Health Through Thryve?
Thryve Inside is a biotechnology company that analyses the bacteria in your gut. This can be a little tricky considering we have trillions of microorganisms living there in a constant state of flux. But it was still interesting to see which bacteria dominate my gut.
The interface of the Thryve dashboard is neat, visual and easy to navigate. There are four main sections: Health Report, Gut Bacteria profile, Food Recommendations and Probiotic Recommendations.
What Did My Health Report & Bacteria Profile Show?
The Health Report is an overview based on the poop sample that I sent to them. According to it my gut wellness score is good, but my bacteria diversity needs improvement. Having a range of good bacteria is essential, as they help to defend the body against different pathogens as well. The right ‘person’ for the right job, if you will.
Two bacteria that I lack are Akkermansia and Alistipes, and it was interesting to see what the effects of that are. Akkermansia apparently correlates with poor sleep and dry, itchy skin. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but these are two problems that I’ve had my whole life. The report also showed that both of these bacteria play a role in maintaining a healthy weight.
The Gut Bacteria profile shows the percentages and types of bacteria they managed to find in my gut. You can filter them by class, species, etc, and export the information if needed.
My Personal Lists of Recommended Foods
The Food Recommendations section is impressive, and is filtered based on the beneficial bacteria I need more of. The categories are comprehensive, comprising of vegetables, fruits & berries, legumes, nuts & seeds, meats, poultry, fish & shellfish, dairy, grains, herbs & spices, oils & fats, and even fruit juice, soft drinks, alcohol and candy (yes please! 😉 ). It’s an evergreen resource that’s great for general health as well, and one that I will definitely be referring to for a long time to come.
What I found particularly interesting is that a lot of the foods in my list are ones that I avoid or eat in sparing amounts. This is because I have a blood clotting disorder called Antiphospholipid Syndrome and am on warfarin, which interacts with these foods. Avocado and green tea, which contain Akkermansia, are also high in Vitamin K (which clots the blood). It’s also interesting that my nutritional therapist has mentioned before that I might be lacking in Vitamin K, based on her analysis of my blood tests.
Anyway, I’d like to increase my intake of these food groups and see how it goes. It went a little awry the last time I tried too many things at once, so this will have to be a slow and cautious process. I will need to keep my diet consistent, while monitoring my INR (blood clotting time).
Customised Probiotics from Thryve
Thryve was generous and included a free bottle of probiotics along with my test kit! It contains a mix of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, which are usually good ones to start with as these strains are normally found in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are fairly generic bacteria that are helpful for a wide range of people, and also survive stomach acid well. I started taking these before bed recently, and will wait for a week or two before deciding on my next step, based on my blood test results and how I feel.
There are also many other probiotic strains that help to improve the health of your gut, urinary tract, and other organ functions. After your gut bacteria has been analysed, you can fill in a simple questionnaire to get your own probiotic recommendation, based on what you’d like to achieve with your health.
How to Get Started
You can order your home test kit or top up your personalised probiotics from their website here. All you need to do is poop and wipe as per usual for the test. Then you swab a rice-sized quantity from the toilet paper, and ship the sample back to them. They provide all the necessary tools, and the box you ship it back in is also pre-paid if you live in the U.S.. Your report should be out within two weeks or so.
The Wonderful Team at Thryve
I also want to say that every single person I communicated with over email has been highly responsive and a pleasure to deal with. The founders seem like empathetic people who genuinely care.
In order to produce as accurate a result as can be possible, the team works closely with a board of scientistic advisors. This comprises of leading doctors, scientists and nutrition experts.
My Next Step in My Recovery Journey
I have already recommended the kit to my own sister, and will follow up with my nutritional therapist on the results. I’m sure that they’ll find it fascinating, too! I know that my gut health needs working on as someone with chronic, inflammatory illnesses, and this provides me with a good starting point. Here’s to better health for us all 🙂
The article is based on my personal experiences, and nothing in this review should be taken as medical advice. Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start on any new treatment or protocol, whatever that may be.
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For More Insight:
- Immunity in the Gut (immunology.org): http://bit.ly/2NLbggK
- Acidophilus (mayoclinic.org): https://mayocl.in/2RVcTf2
- Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being (scientificamerican.com): http://bit.ly/2Ae9yRr
- Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you? (health.harvard.edu): http://bit.ly/2q3D2vy
- The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet (hopkinsmedicine.org): http://bit.ly/2q3FhyX
- Shi, N., Li, N., Duan, X., & Niu, H. (2017). Interaction between the gut microbiome and mucosal immune system. Military Medical Research, 4, 14. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40779-017-0122-9
- OKUMURA, R., & TAKEDA, K. (2016). Maintenance of gut homeostasis by the mucosal immune system. Proceedings of the Japan Academy. Series B, Physical and Biological Sciences, 92(9), 423–435. http://doi.org/10.2183/pjab.92.423
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